July 06, 1987 12:00 PM

by James Spada

In an ideal world, biographies—celebrity or otherwise—enlighten, inspire and entertain. Then there is the real world and this unnecessary exercise in useless voyeurism. Is it enlightening to know that in spite of her cool veneer, Grace Kelly was an untamed sexpot who bedded such well-known older men as Ray Milland, Bing Crosby, Gary Cooper, William Holden and Oleg Cassini? No. Is it inspiring to know that Grace overcame the early crying jags and insomnia that plagued her when she married Prince Rainier and became Monaco’s first lady? Or that later in life she succumbed to bouts of loneliness and depression? Uh-uh. Is it entertaining to know, as one former lover reveals, that “she used to dance naked for me to Hawaiian music…”? Hardly. The author claims that the more people he interviewed about Grace, the more he realized that the truth about her needed to be told. But Spada seems far more devoted to posthumous gossip. While there is information from clippings and old interviews with Grace, the fresh interviews Spada did stress the intimate, not always idyllic details of Grace’s life. It should, of course, not surprise anyone that, image notwithstanding, Kelly’s life was not a fairy tale. Her story is basically a simple one: She was a beautiful woman who loved older men (perhaps because she felt unloved by her own wealthy father); she was a solid, well-liked but unspectacular actress; she married well, raised three handsome children and died tragically. Her life was enough of an open book; keep this one closed. (Dolphin, $17.95)

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